Welcome to the latest edition of Running A-Z where I cover a running related topic in the order of the alphabet. This week we are on the letter N. Newbies: Success principles for new runners. If you missed any of the previous Running A-Z articles you can catch up on letters A-M here.
N was a tough letter. I'll admit when I came up with the idea to write about running topics following the alphabet, I didn't plan ahead on what the topic would be for each letter. I knew that some letters would be more challenging than others. N was a tough one. Hubby's brilliant idea? Running naked. Good one, babe. Although I did consider spinning the topic a bit to be less about running without clothes (stupid, of course) to running "naked" aka without technology. Then I came to my senses and decided to write an article dedicated to the success principles for new runners.
I have dedicated many articles to how to run efficiently, how to run faster and how to improve in running, but before you start thinking about those things as a brand new runner, it is more important to nail down the basic success principles. Get your mind ready for the challenge ahead. If you follow these five principles I can guarantee much smoother sailing (or running, I suppose) than if you did not.
Not everyone loves to run. People remind me all the time that they hate running. But I know the truth. A lot of people only think they hate running because they never gave it a real chance. Most people quit before breaking through to that sweet spot when running becomes enjoyable. I'm not suggesting that everyone should love running. If it is not your thing, that is OK, move on and find some other way to move your body that you actually enjoy. My point is that if you quit in the early stages because it sucks (and no sugar coating, it does suck at first) you will never find out if you actually can enjoy it or not. Give it time. Have patience in the process.
The only way to get better at running is to run. Remaining consistent, especially in the beginning when you are developing as a runner is important. If you run once a week it will take much longer to make progress than if you run three times a week. If you run three times a week for three weeks, but then take two weeks off, you are losing fitness as fast as you are gaining it. You'll never get better without consistent action. Commit to running three times a week, even if that just means running one mile or just 15 minutes at a time. Getting out the door is often the hardest part. Force yourself to be consistent in order to build a solid running base.
Take it slow
I don't mean running speed, but starting off at slow and sustainable pace is advisable. When just beginning many new runner runners follow training plans that are far too aggressive for their abilities. Doing too much too soon is a sure fire path to exhaustion, burnout and injury.
A better action plan would be to ease into your new running routine. Start by committing to just 15-30 minutes three days a week. Allow proper rest and recovery days in between workouts. This will allow your body (and mind) time to adapt to your new program and allow for plenty of room for growth well into the future. You can always add more days, miles or time as you progress.
Put in the Work
Accept that it will take some hard work to achieve your goals. If you are mentally prepared for the challenge, the more likely you will succeed. Work hard and do your best, whatever that may be for any given day. Showing up and doing the work will ensure success.
Write your running goals down. Set weekly, monthly and long term goals. Have both process goals (i.e. I will run 3 times this week) and result goals (I will improve my 5K time by 1 minute or will complete a 10K in six months). Working towards a written goal goes a long way in maintaining consistency and dedication to the process.
Be accountable to someone else. Tell people your goals. Sign up for a race. Some people start blogs to document their training, others do it on Instagram or they find a running partner, join a running group or hire a running coach. We sometimes are all too quick to let ourselves down, but will be held accountable to someone else. Find your people and get to work!
Are you ready for this adventure called running? I can tell you that it changed my whole life. If you would have told the younger version of me that I would one day become runner, a personal trainer and running coach, I probably would have fallen off my bar stool in laughter and disbelief.
Have patience, be consistent, take it slow, put in the work, set goals and be accountable to someone else and I can guarantee your success.
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Keeping running, friends.
I am a NASM personal trainer and RRCA adult distance running coach that specializes in strength training for runners. I offer in-person training in the Shredshed, online training and Fit to Run boot camps. If you are interested in a more in-depth running or strength training plan please contact me. Have questions? I'd love to help.
While I am a certified personal trainer, I am not your personal trainer. Since I don't know your exercise abilities, injury background or medical history, please see your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.